Today’s Technology

Kyle Prasuet October 19, 2017 0

This weekly column will feature the latest topics and trends constantly emerging in a rapidly-growing technical world. Each week, we will focus on a specific technical topic, with topics covering a wide range of technical issues and the latest technical gadgets.

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We all know how it feels to be in the middle of watching a TV show or a video on the Internet when all of a sudden it is brought to a halt by that spinning circle.

That video you were watching is buffering. It is fair enough to say that most people do not enjoy their entertainment being interrupted. Now think about this. Where do most of us watch media? We use sites like Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube, just to name a few. What if another business could block or reduce our capabilities to access these services?

All of these sites are companies that provide us with entertainment we cannot view without the Internet. So who allows us access to the Internet?

That would be your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner. It just so happens that these businesses provide cable television to consumers. Think: how often do you watch TV compared to those Internet media sources? ISPs are in direct competition with services like Netflix and Hulu. It would make sense for companies to try to block out the competition as best as they can.

Fortunately for us, this is where net neutrality comes in. Net neutrality was established to protect our rights while on the Internet.

This means that ISPs cannot block or discriminate against any content or business. With these rules, the Internet is a fair and level playing field for everyone who wants to compete. This means that they cannot favor any one business over another.

For example, Comcast buys out Hulu. Comcast now has an interest in Hulu’s success. They could slow down (or entirely block out) Internet speeds for all of Hulu’s competitors like YouTube and Netflix and advertise Hulu as faster than the others. That does not sound fair, does it?

It is not. That is just one implication of eliminating net neutrality, which also allows us to promote racial equality and many other political issues that we see on the Internet.

It allows us to express our opinion to a wider audience. Without this, we could easily be suppressed by those in control of the Internet.

It also protects small businesses and allows for competition in the market. Without net neutrality, small businesses would never have the chance to thrive. This would promote monopolies on the Web.

Recently, there have been pushes for the abolishment of net neutrality by the current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai. Currently we are protected by net neutrality, but should Pai have his way and pass his bill, he will shift control and power over what we see on the Internet to ISPs and cable companies.

This would mean that the ISPs could control what content we see and post online. Our right to freedom of speech would be stripped from us.

This is not unlike North Korea; where Leader Kim Jong-Un has full control over what citizens of his country can see.

Websites like Facebook and Twitter and basic news outlets like Fox and CNN are all blocked for various reasons, including the desire to keep his people from “western influence.”

He controls what they see and do on the Internet. North Korea does not have net neutrality. For now, we still do. If we lose this fight, then the companies in charge could control us in the same way.

Take the fight to the industry. Don’t let them take our freedom.

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